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When you’re dealing with the hot summers and freezing winters in Minnesota, it’s a good idea to have two sets of tires to swap between. As the seasons change, you might be wondering what’s the best time to change out your tire sets. Here are some general guidelines and helpful tips on swapping your summer or all-season tires for your winter tires!
Winter tires have a lot of special components that make them great at holding onto traction on icy, cold, or snowy roads. They’re different from all-season tires, and more effective especially if you live in snowy states like Minnesota! Winter tires are made with special rubber compounds, plus tread designs with sipes and biting edges to give you extra traction, which make them more effective in colder temperatures. As the rubber and tread wears down on your tires, these special features will become less useful, so it’s important to use keep an eye on them so that you can replace them when it’s time!
Winter tires improve your grip in cold conditions by using a special rubber compound that works better at lower temperatures. It doesn’t harden the way the rubber in summer tires does, so you get better traction even when temperatures go below freezing. They also use features called sipes to give you better grip on icy, snowy, or wet surfaces. Sipes are tiny slits in the tire’s tread block, which open up as the tire rolls. They take in water or snow and remove it from the contact patch of the tire, giving you better traction!
Keep an eye on the weather in your area, and be sure to check the roads near your destination if you plan on traveling long distances. Remember that falling temperatures can damage your summer tires, even if you don’t see any ice on the roads yet! Even on dry roads, cold weather will make the rubber compound in summer tires harden and lose grip, which means they won’t perform as well. And once the snow starts to stick around, you’ll want to break out your winter tires along with your snow shovel. Once the roads are clear again in the spring and the forecast holds steady at higher temperatures again, put your regular tires back on to prevent undue wear on your winter set. The general recommendation is to have your winter tires installed when temperatures average below 40 degrees consistently throughout the day, and then reinstall your all-season or summer tires in the spring when temperatures rise above 40 degrees.
When temperatures become significantly too low for a given tire, a point known as the “glass point”, performance begins to drop dramatically. Temperatures too far below what a tire is designed for can cause compound cracking, especially in high-performance summer tires. On the other hand, at temperatures that are too warm for a tire’s rubber compound, rubber wears faster. In extreme summer heat, winter compound rubber can even come off like bits of an eraser rubbed against paper. Be aware of the outside temperature and know what’s best for your tires, and when it’s time to replace them!
You should also check the tread on all of your tires regularly, so that you’ll know when it’s time to buy new tires entirely. Legally, your tires must have a minimum of 2/32″ of remaining tread depth for safe driving. A simple way to measure is with a penny. If the tread extends over the top of Lincoln’s head, then you it is within legal limits. However, you might want to consider new tires before then if you live in areas with inclement weather. During rainy weather, it’s recommended that you have at about 4/32″ of tread depth. Typically, you shouldn’t use all-season tires in the snow if they are at 6/32″ of tread depth, whereas winter tires can usually be used safely longer into their lifespan thanks to their unique rubber compound. Be sure to pay attention to your tread depth, so that you know when it’s time for new ones. And make sure that you’re storing your winter tires properly during the summer months!
Winter Tires in St. Paul, MN
If you have more questions or you’re in need of new tires for winter or summer performance, give us a call or go straight to our order forms right here! Don’t forget that Buerkle Rewards members get an additional 5% back on purchases like tires. Come visit us near Minneapolis, Inver Grove, and Blaine for all your vehicle’s needs!